CHENNAI: Less than a week after a video of the Srivilliputhur temple elephant being abused went viral on social media, the Assam government has requested Tamil Nadu to send the jumbo back as it does not have proper documentation besides being allegedly ill-treated.
The elephant identified as Jeymalyatha of Srivilliputhur Nachiyar Thirukovil temple was seen tied and beaten up repeatedly with canes on her hind legs by her mahout and kavadi during the 48-day annual rejuvenation camp for jumbos at Thekkampatti. In the video, the animal was heard screaming and trumpeting in pain. The visuals created a massive furore.
Though the Tamil Nadu forest department immediately booked both the accused under provisions of Wildlife (Protection) Act, the Assam government has decided to take the elephant under its custody.
Confirming the development to The New Indian Express, Assam Additional Principal Chief Conservation of Forests (Wildlife) and Chief Wildlife Warden MK Yadava said the department had taken cognizance of the issue and already spoken to the Tamil Nadu forest department.
"We have requested the Tamil Nadu forest department to send the elephant back. A formal written request will be sent soon. Meanwhile, the elephant also seems to be overstaying in Tamil Nadu. The lease has expired several years back," Yadava said.
As per the official documents, accessed by The New Indian Express, the name of the female elephant currently in the custody of Srivilliputhur Nachiyar Thirukovil temple is Joymala alias Jeyamalyatha aged about 33 years although the animal in the video, which was beaten up, looks way younger. The elephant was brought into Tamil Nadu allegedly on a temporary lease around 2008 from Assam and never returned. The owner of the elephant is in Assam, which is a blatant violation of captive elephant rules.
The ownership certificate of elephant identifies the owner as Girin Moran, a resident of Tinuskia district in Assam and the documents says the elephant was kept in a place called Kakapathar in Assam. Recently, the Assam forest department said 61 elephants leased to other states since 2008 have not been traced. Assam's Wildlife Crime Prevention Unit report in December 2007 reported that 259 captive elephants transported outside the state between 2003 and 2007 have not returned.
When contacted, a senior official in the Tamil Nadu forest department told The New Indian Express that a decision on sending the elephant back to Assam will be taken shortly. As per norms, it is illegal for anyone to house an elephant without an ownership certificate in their name. Sources said there are seven elephants in Tamil Nadu whose ownership certificates were issued by the Assam forest department or other states.